United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
JILL M. CARBONI, Plaintiff,
FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
RESA L. SPRINGMANN, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant, Fort Wayne Community School Corporation's, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 23] and Memorandum in Support [ECF No. 24] filed on February 28, 2014. The Plaintiff, Jill M. Carboni, filed a Response [ECF No. 25] on April 28, 2014, and the Defendant filed a Reply [ECF No. 27] on May 16, 2014. The Court notes that the Plaintiff also filed a Supplement [ECF No. 26] to her Response and the Defendant did the same [ECF No. 28] for its Reply. On May 21, 2014, the Plaintiff filed another Supplement [ECF No. 29] to her Response, which also contained a request that the Court strike the Defendant's Reply. That Supplemental filing also included a request to allow the Plaintiff to include a one page document containing Genuine Issues of Dispute that was not included in the Plaintiff's original Response brief. Subsequently the Plaintiff filed the same request independently [ECF No. 31] and the Defendant filed a Response [ECF No. 32] objecting to the Plaintiff's request. This Opinion and Order will resolve all these extraneous issues along with the summary judgment motion.
PENDING MOTIONS OTHER THAN SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The Plaintiff failed to submit a "Statement of Genuine Disputes" in accordance with Local Rule 56-1(b)(2) as part of her brief and now is trying to cure that defect via two Motions [ECF Nos. 29 & 31]. One of those Motions [ECF No. 29] also asks the Court to strike the Defendant's Reply brief as untimely. The Plaintiff was simply mistaken regarding the alleged untimeliness of the Defendant's Reply brief. Furthermore, the supplemental request to cure was not properly made, but the problem was cured in the later Motion [ECF No. 31]. Therefore, the Motion to Supplement and to Strike [ECF No. 29] is denied. The Court is concerned about the Plaintiff's attempt to file an untimely supplement that should have been included in the Response brief. Furthermore, the Defendant has legitimate concerns about their ability to respond to the alleged "Statement of Genuine Disputes." In a situation such as this, the Court would typically either deny the request or grant the request but give the Defendant an opportunity to file a surreply. In this case, however, the Court will grant the request to supplement [ECF No. 31], but a sur-reply is unnecessary because the Court is granting Summary Judgment for the Defendant.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
The moving party bears the responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for summary judgment and identifying the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, along with any affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Rule 56(a) provides that "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts that show there is a genuine issue for trial by her own affidavits or depositions, answers to interrogatories, and any admissions on file. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. When reviewing evidence to determine if there is a genuine issue as to a material fact, the court should draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Lewis v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d 698, 702 (7th Cir. 2009).
The judge's role in summary judgment is to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial, not to weigh the evidence presented. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995); Doe v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir. 1994).
There is no separate rule of civil procedure governing summary judgment in employment discrimination cases. Wallace v. SMC Pneumatics, Inc., 103 F.3d 1394, 1396 (7th Cir. 1997) (noting, however, that issues of intent, such as in discrimination cases, are often critical issues that are genuinely contestable). Summary judgment in favor of the defendant is hardly unknown, or for that matter rare, in employment discrimination cases. Id.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The following facts are supported by citations to admissible materials in the record:
The Plaintiff, Jill M. Carboni, is a teacher in the Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) district and was hired in August 2001 as a high school science teacher. During the 2008-2009 school year, the Plaintiff completed the Aspiring Leaders Academy (Academy), which is an administrator intern program of FWCS. The prerequisites for applying to be an FWCS administrator include having a school administrator's license and either previous administrator experience or successful completion of the Academy. Upon completion of the Academy program, the Plaintiff satisfied the prerequisites to apply for administrator positions at FWCS.
The Plaintiff did her Academy internship at Shawnee Middle School-her mentor during the internship was Shawnee Principal, Matt Scheibel. The Plaintiff states that Scheibel repeatedly engaged in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. Scheibel would intentionally pass gas in the presence of office staff. In fact, his conduct was more direct. He would approach a coworker, yell "spider, " raise his leg, and pass gas directly at the coworker. Additionally, he made jokes about people being fat (particularly women) and constantly used the word "fuck" in and around the office. The Plaintiff did not file a complaint about Scheibel during her internship and at the end of her internship Scheibel gave the Plaintiff a positive review-she received marks of "outstanding" and "successful" in a number of categories.
Following her internship, the Plaintiff applied for a number of administrative positions at different schools within FWCS. In her Response brief, the Plaintiff limited the scope of her arguments to two specific incidents. Those incidents involve the Plaintiff's application for Assistant Principal positions at two schools-Snider and Elmhurst-for which she did not receive a request to interview. In fact, the positions were only posted for four days. After four days the Assistant Principal positions were eliminated and the funding was used to hire Academy interns at those schools instead. The two interns hired, John Houser and Barry Schrock, were male. Both men signed administrative internship contracts and were approved by the school board as interns.
FWCS reestablished the Assistant Principal positions at Snider and Elmhurst for the 2010-2011 school year and those positions were included in a general interviewing process for all open FWCS administrative positions. The Plaintiff applied and interviewed, as did Houser and Schrock. FWCS has a policy that allows potential candidates to apply when jobs are posted if they are expected to have completed the prerequisites by the time of the position start date. In this case, Houser and Schrock were permitted to apply for the positions because, if hired, their internships would be completed before they would assume their new positions. The Plaintiff was not hired through the general interview process. Houser and Schrock were hired. The Plaintiff only scored nine and a half points on the interview process, which was the lowest among all the candidates.
In the 2009-2010 school year, the Plaintiff was laid off as part of a district wide reduction in force. The list of teachers to be laid off was worked out between school district officials and representatives of the teacher's union. When the district was able to bring her back, she was placed at a different school, Memorial Park Middle School. The Plaintiff was assigned a small classroom at Memorial Park in the lower level of the school that was not a science laboratory. The Plaintiff asked the Principal, Tim Rayl, if she could switch rooms. Rayl informed her that she could only do so if one of the other teachers agreed to switch. In the fall of the 2011-2012 school year, the Assistant Principal at Memorial Park resigned and the position was posted in January 2012. The Plaintiff applied, but was not chosen for an interview. The Plaintiff states that when she asked Rayl why she did not get an interview he told her that because of the lawsuit he did not think that she wanted the job. In his deposition, Rayl said that he chose not to interview the Plaintiff because he had supervised her for the past year and a half and he already knew she did not share his educational philosophy.
The Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the City of Fort Wayne Metro Human Relations Commission on November 17, 2010. She alleged sexual harassment against Scheibel and sex discrimination against FWCS for refusing to hire her for administrative positions for which she applied and for hiring males less qualified than she. The Plaintiff also claimed retaliation on the grounds that she was denied interviews for positions after she retained an attorney. The Plaintiff then filed her lawsuit in this Court on May 24, 2012.
A. Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment
The Plaintiff's lawsuit invokes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. An employer violates Title VII if it is responsible for a hostile work environment. Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993); Cooper-Schut v. Visteon Auto. Sys., 361 F.3d 421, 426 (7th Cir. 2004). "Title VII affords employees the right to work in an environment free from discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.'" Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 938 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 65 (1986)). To avoid summary judgment on a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to four elements: (1) whether the work environment was both subjectively and objectively offensive; (2) whether the plaintiff's gender was the cause of the harassment; (3) whether the conduct was severe or pervasive; and (4) whether there was a basis for employer liability. Chaib v. Indiana, 744 F.3d 974, 985 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Haugerud v. Amery Sch. Dist., 259 F.3d 678, 693 (7th Cir. 2001) (stating that, for purposes of summary judgment, the court "must decide whether a reasonable trier of fact could find that plaintiff was harassed, that she was harassed because of her sex, and that the conduct was severe or pervasive enough to create a subjectively and objectively hostile work environment").
The Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim does not survive summary judgment because she has not presented evidence that her gender was the cause of the harassment, or that it was sufficiently severe or pervasive ...